LATEST NEWS

Massachusetts Legislature Calls on U.S. Census Bureau: Support Fair Redistricting, End Prison Gerrymandering by Bernadette Rabuy, Sep. 30 Dēmos and Prison Policy Initiative Applaud Senators Rosenberg, Chang-Diaz, and Dorcena Forry and Representatives Moran, Carvalho, and Rushing for.... Read more Massachusetts delivers resolution to Census Bureau by Aleks Kajstura, Sep. 12 Census Bureau receives Massachusetts’ resolution urging the Census to tabulate incarcerated people at their home address. Read more Significant Victory in Fight to End "Prison Gerrymandering": by Peter Wagner, Sep. 8 Judge Lagueux rules that lawsuit against prison gerrymandering in Cranston Rhode Island may go forward. Read more

Is prison gerrymandering new to you?

Welcome! We wrote our introduction to the site and its contents just for you.

Progress towards ending prison gerrymandering

map showing state and local government that are taking action to end prison-based gerrymandering

Looking at the 2000 Census, the founders of the Prison Policy Initiative discovered that the sheer size of the prison population was combining with an outdated Census Bureau rule to seriously distort how political decisions are made in this country. In a series of reports, we put numbers on the problem of prison-based gerrymandering, suggested solutions, and sparked a national movement.

Since then, we’ve made tremendous progress towards ending prison gerrymandering:

Washington Post op-ed

Prison gerrymandering dilutes your vote

“There are many ways to hijack political power. One of them is to draw state or city legislative districts around large prisons — and pretend that the inmates are legitimate constituents.”Brent Staples

Called prison gerrymandering, the practice finds its clearest example in Anamosa, Iowa where a large prison was almost an entire city council district. Council districts are supposed to contain the same number of people, but basing districts on non-voting non-resident prison populations gives a handful of residents the same political power as thousands of residents elsewhere in the city.


Don't miss some of our reports:

50 State Guide to Fixing Prison-Based Gerrymandering
report coverby Peter Wagner, Aleks Kajstura, Elena Lavarreda, Christian de Ocejo, and Sheila Vennell O'Rourke, March 2010
  Preventing prison-based gerrymandering in redistricting: What to watch for
report cover thumbnail
by Peter Wagner and Brenda Wright, Prison Policy Initiative and Demos, February 23, 2011 [En Español]

Meet us

Nothing scheduled right now. Invite us to to your city, college or organization or apply for an internship.

Stay informed:

Get the latest updates by signing up for our newsletters:


Tweet this Follow @PrisonPolicy on Twitter Donate Contact Us